Lost Song: Music and Magic With a Healing Message At Its Core

lost_song.jpgWow.

Just wow.

So, I recently finished watching this anime called Lost Song. A friend of mine had wanted me to watch a different anime, but I wasn’t really feeling it at the time, so I come across this one instead. I saw a medieval fantasy setting with a music-based magic system and thought, “Cool, okay, I’ll give it a whirl. Makes me think of the series I’m working on right now, The Gailean Quartet.”

Again, wow.

I truly don’t want to give away any spoilers, because it’s definitely a show you should experience for yourself. But allow me to at least praise it without giving too much away.

The series did remind me of my Gailean Quartet for the musical magic aspect. Its fantasy setting and world-building also reminded me of Zelda, my favorite game series. But the emotion is what really set it apart for me. By the end of episode one, you already know what kind of show it’s gearing up to be; much like Game of Thrones, it isn’t afraid to be intense and do things that have you covering your mouth, staring at the screen wide-eyed. As much as I wanted to keep watching, I had to brace myself for each episode because I knew some new emotional happenstance was about to go down, whether something beautiful and whimsical or something unbelievably tragic. That’s not to say the series doesn’t end well, because it does! But it’s not what you think it will be starting out; about half-way through, you learn a major plot twist and some truths are revealed that are SO GOOD I could talk about them all day…but again, I don’t wanna spoil anything.

Overall, the characters are great–I was very emotionally invested in them–and the artwork and music are gorgeous. One song in particular is quite haunting; I’ve taken to listening to it on repeat and crying. Lol. I do think I connected with show as well because I could see myself in both the main female characters, especially due to recentish events in my own life.

Lost Song carries with a lovely message of love, forgiveness, healing, and the importance of finding one’s passion and purpose. The message of healing especially touched me on a personal level. The truth that in order for real healing to occur we must face our feelings, face all of the pain, love, and memories, instead of pushing them aside or throwing them away, is a powerful one that I think many need to hear.

I 1000% recommend this show. Even if you’re not an anime fan, if you’re a lover of medieval fantasy and/or shows that will really make you feel and think and dig deep inside yourself, then this is the show for you. I can’t even start another show right now because I’m still processing all the magic and beauty that is Lost Song.

“One Starry Knight” Grand Release!!

one_starry_knight_notext8_frontThis morning at midnight (Dec 30, 2015) marked the grand release of One Starry Knight! The book will be available in paperback at online stores like Amazon and Barnes and Noble, though of course, I will eventually release an ebook version as well.

I want to take a moment to share with you why this book is so important to me. I haven’t started let alone completed a project quite like this in some time, and it is special to me for a number of reasons:

1. It’s the first romance inspired by someone in my personal life that I have completed since high school. I have started many since then, but finished none. But I completed a first draft of this one in about a span of only two weeks. The majority of it rushed to me in one fell swoop. When God inspires, God inspires. This also serves as a compliment to the person who inspired the book, for what an impact they made in my life in such a short time to allow me to craft such a book as this so quickly yet completely.
2. It’s a great fantasy romance, yes. But early on, I knew I wanted it to be more than that. Because the person who inspired it has such a depth to them that I thought it was only fitting this story did as well. Hence, more than simply being a fantasy romance with splashes of adventure and mystery, it is also a story of forgiveness, friendship, the close bond between brothers, and spiritual rebirth.
3. It’s a story which features an interracial couple. Those who know me well enough know by now that one of my big focuses in my books, whether for lil kids or young adults, is diversity, from racial diversity to including folks with disabilities.
4. This is possibly the greatest work I have written to date, and no, I don’t say that out of vanity. As mentioned before, the story seemed to come to me in a single breath, but the short span in which it was written in no way diminishes its quality. I have learned much with my editor, Kira Lerner, over the years, and while I did not use her for this project, I did implement much I have learned from her in its creation. The writing is some of my best; it’s one of those books I read as if standing outside myself and think, “Hmm, I really wrote this?” But like I said, when God inspires, He inspires. Sometimes there’s no further explanation than that.

I suppose that about sums it up. I could go on and on about this book for hours, but that would involve boring y’all to death and probably giving away every last spoiler. I recommend you just read it for yourself. Go pick up a copy on one of the websites I mentioned. Or, starting on January 2, try your luck at winning one of the twenty-four copies I have available in my give-away at Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/giveaway/show/168182-one-starry-knight

Thanks so much for your support, and God bless you all, dear readers, with a happy and healthy New Year!!

~ Christine E. Schulze

Truly, all things happen for a reason.

After all, “perhaps it was just as well that Ella’s step sisters were cruel for had she never run to the forest, she would never have met the prince.”

In the end, Ella has the grace to forgive and yet the wisdom to walk away.

And she and Kit go on to lead a wonderful life, believing themselves to be “the happiest of families.”

 

cinderella2

Life Through Quotes From “Cinderella”

cinderella6I just got back from seeing the new 2015 version of Cinderella at the theatre.

Let me just say I was completely enchanted and blown away by this film.

It’s not often I find a film that I would watch every day over and over. When I do, it’s usually because something that has resonated deeply with me. In this case, I saw myself in Ella’s character a lot, in certain losses and cruelties that she suffered–and in the ways that she handled them. I want to be able to handle life’s challenges with her same kindness and courage. Her sweet and giving spirit is something I think we all should aspire to attain.

I could tell from the trailer the film would be spectacular and emotional; proof was in the pudding when I would watch the trailer on repeat and just cry at how lovely it was.

But its beauty was not contained simply to the fancy dresses, the ornate carriages and castle. No, this film, this story, was alive with a spiritual beauty much deeper than that.

Allow me to share a few favorite quotes from the film, and you’ll get what I mean:

 

Narrator: “She saw the world, not always as it was, but as it could be…with a perhaps a little bit of magic.”

Ella’s Mom: “I want to tell you a secret that will see you through all the trials that life can offer. Have courage and be kind. You have more courage your little finger than most people possess in their whole body—and it has power.”

Narrator: “Pain turned to memory.”

Narrator: “It’s better to be alone, than be surrounded by poor company.”

Narrator: “She had few friends, but the ones she had, she treated with an open heart and an open hand.”

Ella: “Just because it’s what’s done doesn’t mean it’s what should be done!”

Narrator: “Perhaps it was just as well that Ella’s step sisters were cruel for had she never run to the forest, she would never have met the prince.”

Fairy Godmother: “What is a bowl of milk? Nothing, but with kindness, it is everything.”

Narrator: “To be seen as we truly are, is the biggest risk we will ever take. Will we be enough as we really are?”

Ella: “No princess, no carriage, no parents, no dowry. I don’t even know if that slipper will fit. Will you take me as I am—an honest country girl who loves you?” Prince: “Of course I will, but only if you’ll take me as I am—an apprentice who’s still learning his trade.”

Ella: “Why are you so cruel? I tried so hard to be kind to you.” Stepmother: “Why? Because you are young and innocent and good. And I…”

Ella (to her stepmother at the end): “I forgive you.”

 

The messages in the film are absolutely beautiful, and we could stand to see more of them these days, in film, books, you name it. From the theme of being courageous and kind to Ella’s unbending beliefs in the magic her parents taught her. From her innocent, sweet spirit to the way she cares for all living creatures. From the way she is so sincere and true to herself to the way she so graciously forgives her stepmother at the end–and yet has wisdom and strength to walk away from her cruelties as well.

A totally brilliant story and a must-see for all people of all ages.

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Literary Life Moment #2: Sula

sula10272011I recently bought Toni Morrison’s Sula not only because I love Morrison’s imagery in her writing, but because I was hooked by the book’s description:

“Two girls who grow up to become women. Two friends who become something worse than enemies… their friendship ends in an unforgivable betrayal—or does it end?”

As I was reading the book, I saw much of both people in my life and myself reflected in the characters. I initially identified most of all with Nel, though after some reflection, I can also see parts of myself in Sula and Shadrack—much as I can see others around me in them as well.

I recorded quotes throughout the book that struck a chord with me. Here they are; here is my journey through Toni Morrison’s Sula and how the book resonates in my own life:

 

My Life Through Quotes from Toni Morrison’s Sula

 

“There in the toilet water he [Shadrack] saw a grave black face. A black so definite, so unequivocal, it astonished him. He had been harboring a skittish apprehension that he was not real—that he didn’t exist at all. But when the blackness greeted him with its indisputable presence, he wanted nothing more.”

(p. 13)

“It had to do with making a place for fear as a way of controlling it.”

(p. 14)

“Once the people understood the boundaries and nature of his [Shadrack’s] madness, they could fit him, so to speak, into the scheme of things.”

(p. 15)

“The trip, perhaps, or her newfound me-ness, gave her [Sula] the strength to cultivate a friend in spite of her mother.”

(p. 29)

“Which was fitting, for it was in dreams that the two girls had first met… they had already made each other’s acquaintance in the delirium of their noon dreams. They were solitary little girls whose loneliness was so profound it intoxicated them and sent them stumbling into Technicolored visions that always included a presence, a someone, who, quite like the dreamer, shared the delight of the dream. When Nel, an only child, sat on the steps of her back porch surrounded by the high silence of her mother’s incredibly orderly house, feeling the neatness pointing at her back, she studied the poplars and fell easily into a picture of herself lying on a flowered bed, tangled in her own hair, waiting for some fiery prince. He approached but never quite arrived. But always, watching the dream along with her, were some smiling sympathetic eyes. Someone as interested as herself in the flow of her imagined hair, the thickness of the mattress of the flowers, the voile sleeves that closed below her elbows in gold-threaded cuffs.”

(p.51)

Their friendship was as intense as it was sudden. They found relief in each other’s personality. Although both were unshaped, formless things, Nel seemed stronger and more consistent than Sula, who could hardly be counted to sustain any emotion for more than three minutes. Yet there was one time when that was not true, when she held on to a mood for weeks, but even that was in defense of Nel.”

(p. 53)

“But toughness was not their quality—adventuresomeness was, and a mean determination to explore everything that interested them…”

(p. 55)

In the safe harbor of each other’s company they could afford to abandon the ways of other people and focus on the perception of things… Joined in mutual admiration, they watched each day as though it were a movie arranged for their amusement.”

(p. 55)

“Nel’s call floated up and into the window, pulling her [Sula] away from dark thoughts and back into the bright, hot daylight.”

(p. 57)

“There was a space, a separateness between them.”

(p. 64)

“…feel the oldest and most devastating pain there is: not the pain of childhood, but the remembrance of it.”

(p.65)

“Nel and Sula stood some distance away from the grave, the space that had sat between them in the pews had dissolved… They relaxed slowly until during the walk back home their fingers were laced in as gentle a clasp as that of any two young girlfriends trotting up the road on a summer day wondering what happened to butterflies in the winter.”

(p. 66)

“…inside she disagreed and remained convinced that Sula had watched Hannah burn not because she was paralyzed, but because she was interested.”

(p. 78)

“’I built that road,’ he [Jude] could say… ‘I built that road.’ People would walk over his sweat for years.”

(p. 82)

“Without that someone he [Jude] was a waiter hanging around a kitchen like a woman. With her [Nel] he was head of a household pinned to an unsatisfactory job out of necessity. The two of them together would make one Jude.”

(p. 83)

Only with Sula did that quality have free reign, but their friendship was so close, they themselves had difficulty distinguishing one’s thoughts from the other’s. During all of her girlhood the only respite Nel had had from her stern and undemonstrative parents was Sula. When Jude began to hover around her, she was flattered—all the girls liked him—and Sula made the enjoyment of his attentions keener because she seemed always to want Nel to shine.”

(p. 83)

“They never quarreled, the way some girlfriends did over boys, or competed against one another for them. In those days a compliment to one was a compliment to the other, and cruelty to one was a challenge to the other.”

(p. 84)

“Nel’s response to Jude’s shame and anger selected her away from Sula. And greater than her friendship was this new feeling of being needed by someone who saw her singly. She didn’t even know she had a neck until Jude remarked on it, or that her smile was anything but the spreading of her lips until he saw it as a small miracle.”

(p. 84)

“The purpose of evil was to survive it.”

(p. 90)

“She [Nel] knew it was all due to Sula’s return to the Bottom. It was like getting the use of an eye back, having a cataract removed. Her old friend had come home. Sula. Who made her laugh, who made her see old things with new eyes, in whose presence she felt clever, gentle, and a little raunchy. Sula, whose past she had lived through and whose present was a constant sharing of perceptions. Was there anyone else before whom she could never be foolish? In whose view inadequacy was idiosyncrasy, a character trait rather than a deficiency? Anyone who left behind that aura of fun and complicity? Sula never competed; she helped others define themselves.”

(p. 95)

“She [Nel] looked around for a place to be. A small place. The closet? No. Too dark. The bathroom. It was both small and bright, and she wanted to be in a very small, very bright place. Small enough to contain her grief. Bright enough to throw into relief the dark things that cluttered her.”

(p. 107)

“Sula was wrong. ‘Hell ain’t things lasting forever. Hell is change.’ Not only did men leave and children grow up and die, but even the misery didn’t last. One day she [Nel] wouldn’t even have that. This very grief that had twisted her into a curve on the floor and flayed her would be gone. She would lose that too.”

(p. 108)

“’Why, even in hate here I am thinking of what Sula said.’”

(p. 108)

“…Nel waited. Waited for the oldest cry. A scream not for others, not in sympathy for a burnt child, or a dead father, but a deeply personal cry for one’s own pain… But it did not come.”

(p. 108)

“She [Nel] even hoped their dreams would rub off on her and give her the wonderful relief of a nightmare so she could stop going around scared to turn her head this way or that and see it. That was the scary part—seeing it.”

(p. 110)

“When the word got out about Eva being put in Sunnydale, the people in the Bottom shook their heads and said Sula was a roach. Later, when they saw how she took Jude, then ditched him for others, and heard how he bought a ticket to Detroit (where he bought but never mailed birthday cards to his sons), they forgot all about Hannah’s easy ways (or their own), and said she was a bitch. Everybody remembered the plague of robins that announced her return, and the tale about her watching Hannah burn was stirred up again.”

(p. 112)

“That incident, and Teapot’s Mamma, cleared up for everybody the meaning of the birthmark over her eye; it was not a stemmed rose, or a snake, it was Hannah’s ashes marking her from the very beginning.”

(p. 114)

“And the fury she [Sula] created in the women of the town was incredible—for she would lay their husbands once and no more. Hannah had been a nuisance, but she was complimenting the women, in a way, by wanting their husbands. Sula was trying them out and discarding them without any excuse the men could swallow.”

(p. 115)

“The presence of evil was something to be first recognized, then dealt with, survived, outwitted, triumphed over.”

(p. 118)

“Eva’s arrogance and Hannah’s self-indulgence merged in her [Sula] and, with a twist that was all her own imagination, she lived out her days exploring her own thoughts and emotions, giving them full reign, feeling no obligation to please anybody unless their pleasure pleased her.”

(p. 118)

“She [Sula] had no center, no speck around which to grow… For that reason, she felt no compulsion to verify herself—be consistent with herself.”

(p. 119)

She [Sula] had clung to Nel as the closest thing to both an other and a self, only to discover that she and Nel were not one and the same thing. She had no thought at all of causing Nel pain when she bedded down with Jude. They had always shared the affection of other people: compared how a boy kissed, what line he used with one and then the other. Marriage, apparently, had changed all that, but having had no intimate knowledge of marriage…she was ill prepared for the possessiveness of the one person she felt close to.”

(p. 119)

Nel was the one person who had wanted nothing from her [Sula], who had accepted all aspects of her. Now she wanted everything, and all because of that. Nel was the first person who had been real to her, whose name she knew, who had seen as she had the slant of life that made it possible to stretch it to its limits. Now Nel was one of them.”

(p. 119, 120)

She [Sula] had been looking all along for a friend, and it took her a while to discover that a lover was not a comrade and never could be—for a woman.”

(p. 121)

“In a way, her [Sula’s] strangeness, her naiveté, her craving for the other half of her equation was the consequence of an idle imagination… had she anything to engage her tremendous curiosity and her gift for metaphor, she might have exchanged the restlessness and preoccupation with whim for an activity that provided her with all she yearned for. And like any artist with no art form, she became dangerous.”

(p. 121)

“And there was the utmost irony and outrage in lying under someone, in a position of surrender, feeling her [Sula’s] own abiding strength and limitless power.”

(p. 123)

“There, in the center of that silence was not eternity but the death and time of a loneliness so profound the word itself had no meaning.”

(p. 123)

“…but her [Sula’s] real pleasure was the fact that he talked to her. They had genuine conversations. He did not speak down to her or at her, not content himself with puerile questions about her life or monologues of his own activities. Thinking she was possibility brilliant, like his mother, he seemed to expect brilliance from her, and she delivered. And in all of it, he listened more than he spoke.”

(p. 127, 128)

“Sula began to discover what possession was. Not love, perhaps, but possession or at least the desire for it.”

(p. 131)

“But Sula, the green ribbon shining in her hair, was flooded with an awareness of the impact of the outside world on Ajax.”

(p. 133)

“Ajax blinked. Then he looked swiftly into her [Sula’s] face. In her words, in her voice, was a sound he knew well. For the first time, he saw the green ribbon. He looked around and saw the gleaming kitchen and the table set for two and detected the scent of the nest. Every hackle on his body rose, and he knew that very soon she would, like all of her sisters before her, put to him the death-knell question ‘Where you been?’ His eyes dimmed with a mild and momentary regret… He dragged her under him and made love to her with the steadiness and intensity of a man about to leave for Dayton.”

(p. 133, 134)

“She [Sula] could find nothing, for he had left nothing but his stunning absence.”

(p. 134)

“It was as if she were afraid she had hallucinated him…”

(p. 134)

“’When I [Sula] was a little girl the heads of my paper dolls came off, and it was a long time before I discovered that my own head would not fall off if I bent my neck. I used to walk around holding it very stiff because I thought a strong wind or a heavy push would snap my neck. Nel was the one who told me the truth. But she was wrong. I did not hold my head stiff enough when I met him and so I lost it just like the dolls.”

(p. 136)

“She [Nel] had practiced not just the words but the tone, the pitch of her voice. It should be calm, matter-of-fact, but strong in sympathy—for the illness though, not for the patient… For the first time in three years she would be looking at the stemmed rose that hung over the eye of her enemy. Moreover, she would be doing it with the taste of Jude’s exit in her mouth, with the resentment and shame that even yet pressed for release in her stomach.”

(p. 138)

“Nel was glad to have a concrete errand. Conversation would be difficult. (Trust Sula to pick up a relationship exactly where it lay)

(p. 139)

“It was funny, sending Nel off to that drugstore right away like that, after she [Sula] had not seen her to speak to her for years.”

(p. 140)

“Pain was greedy. It demanded all of her attention.”

(p. 141)

“’Yes. But my lonely is mine. Now your lonely is somebody else’s. Made by somebody else and handed to you. Ain’t that something? A secondhand lonely.”

(p. 143)

“’How you know?’ Sula asked.

“’Know what?’ Nel still wouldn’t look at her.

“’About who was good? How you know it was you?’

“’What you mean?’

“’I mean maybe it wasn’t you. Maybe it was me.’”

(p. 146)

“A crease of fear touched her breast, for any second there was sure to be a violent explosion in her brain, a gasping for breath. Then she realized, or rather she sensed, that there was not going to be any pain. She was not breathing because she didn’t have to. Her body did not need oxygen. She was dead. Sula felt her face smiling. “’Well, I’ll be damned,’ she thought, ‘it didn’t even hurt. Wait’ll I tell Nel.’”

(p. 149)

“Other mothers who had defended their children from Sula’s malevolence (or who had defended their positions as mothers from Sula’s scorn for the role) now had nothing to rub up against. The tension was gone and so was the reason for the effort they had made.”

(p. 153)

“If he [Shadrack] was lonely before, he didn’t know it because the noise he kept up, the roaring, the busyness, protected him from knowing it.”

(p. 155, 156)

“The messier his house got, the lonelier he [Shadrack] felt…”

(p. 156)

“She [Sula] had a tadpole over her eye (that was how he knew she was a friend—she had the mark of the fish he loved)…”

(p. 156)

“…he [Shadrack] tried to think of something to say to comfort her, something to stop the hurt from spilling out of her eyes. So he had said ‘always,’ so she would not have to be afraid of the change…he had said ‘always’ to convince her, to assure her, of permanency.”

(p. 157)

“Still, when the day broke in an incredible splash of sun, he [Shadrack] gathered his things. In the early part of the afternoon, drenched in sunlight and certain that this would be the last time he would invite them to end their lives neatly and sweetly, he walked over the rickety bridge and onto the Bottom. But it was not heartfelt this time, not loving this time, for he no longer cared whether he helped them or not. His rope was improperly tied; his bell had a tinny unimpassioned sound. His visitor was dead and would come no more.”

(p. 158)

“They killed, as best they could, the tunnel they were forbidden to build.”

(p. 161)

“It didn’t take long, after Jude left, for her [Nel] to see what the future would be. She had looked at her children and knew in her heart that that would be all. That they were all she would ever know of love.”

(p. 165)

“One of the last few pedestrians, Nel walked the shoulder road while cars slipped by. Laughed at by her children, she still walked wherever she wanted to go, allowing herself to accept car rides only when the weather required it.”

(p. 166)

“’You. Sula. What’s the difference?’”

(p. 168)

“What had she [Nel] felt then, watching Sula going around and around and then the little boy swinging out over the water? Sula had cried and cried… But Nel had remained calm.”

(p. 170)

“All these years she [Nel] had been secretly proud of her calm, controlled behavior when Sula was uncontrollable, her compassion for Sula’s frightened and shamed eyes. Now it seemed that what she had thought was maturity, serenity, and compassion was only the tranquility that follows a joyful stimulation.”

(p. 170)

“’Sula?’ she whispered, gazing at the tops of trees. ‘Sula?’

“Leaves stirred; mud shifted; there was the smell of overripe green things. A soft ball of fur broke and scattered like dandelion spores in the breeze.

“’All that time, all that time I thought I was missing Jude.’ And the loss pressed on her chest and came up into her throat. ‘We was girls together,’ she said as though explaining something. ‘O Lord, Sula,’ she cried, ‘girl, girl, girlgirlgirl.’

It was a fine cry—loud and long—but it had no bottom and it had no top, just circles and circles of sorrow.

(p. 174)

 

 

First Children’s Book To Help Support Charities

Cover_v7_textAs many of you know, I have been working with artist Kishiro, also known as Philip San Gaspar, for the past few months to create my first illustrated children’s chapter book, The Adventures of William the Brownie. The book has been finished for some weeks; right now, I’m in the process of having some final things formatted. The official release date is November 21, 2014, so it’s coming up fast!

I’ve decided to do something different with this book than I have done in the past. One of the themes explored in the book is that of adoption. I have always had a passion for adoption; I believe it to be God’s will that I someday adopt, be a foster parent, or maybe even start some kind of charity for orphans/foster children myself.

In the meantime, I am doing what I can by pledging to donate twenty-five percent of all royalties made from William the Brownie to the following charities: The North American Council on Adoptable Children(NACAC) and the Christian Alliance for Orphans(CAFO).

The main reason I have selected both of these charities is because their main focus is on helping children specifically in the United States, and that’s important to me. While it’s a wonderful thing to help children around the world, my particular passion has always been to help the children right here in the States; if I do adopt someday, I intend to adopt a child from the States.

NACAC’s focus is entirely on helping place children in the States who were once considered unadoptable or hard-to-place in good homes. CAFO does have a couple of charities that extend to other countries, but their main focus is also the States, and they have a variety of programs to help place children in good families. They also help currently existing foster families, as well as widows and adoptive families, to be taken care of and succeed.

I am really excited to publish this book and not only get it in the hands of children and adults alike–I think it’s a great little adventure with a message of courage, love, and what it means to be a family–but also to be able to use the book to help children who, like one of the characters in the book, need a good home.

Thanks so much to all my readers for their support and for joining me in this new adventure. Together, we can bring families together and help make a great difference in the lives of children and adults alike.Page 27